Could Hayate Cross Blade get any better? I can’t imagine how. Unless Hayate grows up suddenly and she and Ayana kiss passionately…but even without that, this manga still rocks. (And you know, thinking about it…I’m not sure they really work as a couple…)
At the end of Volume 1, we leave Ayana and Hayate, our newly paired shinyuu having just fought off 18 other teams to move up an entire rank in one huge, embarrasingly amusing randori. Hayate is speaking to her friend, fellow first year Momoka, one of the very few unpaired swordswomen in school, about just why she remains without soeur…woops, I mean shinyuu. ;-)
Momoka tells Hayate that she has a person with whom she wants be paired – her old sempai from her kendo dojo, Riona. Rio-‘nee is a year older and entered the school first. When Momoka entered, she relates in a heart-rending tale, she found Riona paired with an abusive older classman. At that *very* instant, the two appear and we see Riona’s partner haul off and belt her across the face! Shock! Momoka challenges the upperclassman to a duel, to rescue her beloved Rio-‘nee. Hayate is moved to tears…
In the meantime, since Hayate is helping Momoka train, Ayana is left in peaceful bliss to fend off her randy roommate Jun. Jun is our resident openly desirous best friend type, who makes no bones about wanting to jump this particular sempai, but Ayana isn’t interested. (Of course, she’s still pining away a little for Yukari, her former shinyuu. You can tell by her reactions everytime she runs into Yukari.)
Does Momoka win the challenge? What do you think…of course she does! But the outcome is nothing like Momoka expects, as Riona opts to stay with her current partner, since she’s really not as abusive as she seems and in fact, being slapped upside the head every once in a while refreshes her. Erm, yeah. (And man, Momoka was so kewl and princely as she fights for the woman she loves…sigh…stupid Riona.)
Which is where the fun *really* begins, because the only other unpaired girl in the school (not every student is a fighter, but if you are, you can’t fight without a partner) has been haunting Momoka trying to get her to team up. I use the word “haunting” quite literally. Inugami Isuzu is the CREEPIEST girl ever. The art for her is brilliantly funny, drawing on alot of current horror movies and standard traditional horror tropes that you will recognize immediately. She’s got an evil black aura around her head and even the way she moves and talks are creepy. To top it all off, Isuzu is clearly a witch. I adore Isuzu…she’s so skin-twitchingly awful. ^_^
After resigning herself to losing Riona, Momoka makes Isuzu’s physical appearance a little more friendly looking, which actually on serves to make her *more* creepy. Hayate dubs Isuzu “Wanko” (puppy girl, a play on her family name.) At last, Momoka and her new shinyuu can join the battle.
I cannot *wait* for Volume 3.
I mean, chicks with weapons, tons of yuri fun, almost no fanservice….no, really, I can’t think of any! Can you believe it? Hayate Cross Blade is a strong favorite so far for best manga of 2005. It’ll be damned hard to beat, anyway….